34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards Regional Winner: UCT Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is a way of continuously negotiating between a wide range of practices, involving people, materials and timelines, according to Hayden Malan, declared the winner of the Most Innovative Final-Year Landscape Architecture Award on Friday 5 February. The event was part of the 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards and saw Hayden receive an R8 000 prize.

Hayden elaborates: “From a personal experience, landscape architecture has meant that I can explore plant properties, natural systems and spatial concepts, which I have always been interested in. The broader skillsets also enable many other professions to communicate with one another, which I find fascinating. Within a highly compartmentalised world, this translatability is often wrongfully overlooked.”

Hayden’s winning project is situated in Saldanha Bay, South Africa’s second-busiest port, where surges in human attention and development throughout history have resulted in a complex and almost chaotic exchange between living systems. In light of proposals to expand the coastal industrial zone, the main design objective is to mitigate the degradation of the marine environment by filtering ballast water (fresh or saltwater held in tanks and cargo holds of ships) to rid it of invasive non-indigenous species.

The central design proposes to filter ballast water through onshore abalone farming and concurrently generate onshore seaweed feed and farming. The site of the project is an abandoned iron ore factory well-situated to be repurposed for water filtration. The interdependent industries of ballast water maintenance, fresh water sourcing and aquaculture would work together to make each more resilient and provide opportunities for people to be grounded in their environment.

The project incorporates Corobrik Ironstone paving throughout the redesigned Saldanha Steel factory, with a colour that links to the dominance of iron in the bay and facilitates pedestrian engagement with the site. This is important because the factory and masses of purple dust from the iron ore storage have been environmentally detrimental to the bay, while the slow rejuvenation by the broader design would help remedy this.

Billed as one of the most prestigious awards programmes of its kind in South Africa, the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards selects regional winners from eight major universities, based on the students’ final theses. For UCT in particular, Corobrik also highlights innovative projects from two landscape architecture students.

Hayden highlights that he is honoured by the recognition, and that the Awards are a unique celebration of new ideas, people and input into the small but extremely important landscape architecture industry. It is also a platform that sparks conversations between industry and the public realm.

“I love to learn new approaches of doing things and to be in teams where this is possible, and I have had the great opportunity of doing this in varied ways. This has ranged from high-level football and multidisciplinary community art projects, to arguing about rivers in plan view. The biggest challenge has been to develop an interdisciplinary outlook while still being able to fulfil a valuable role within a team,” explains Hayden.

Hayden Malan
Hayden Malan

As for the future, Hayden hopes to continue adding to teams and communities where people are supportive of one another. “I see myself working in the realms of landscape architecture, art, education and research. I believe in the value of outdoor spaces, from pristine coastal areas to artificial playing fields, and plan to give back by adding to their health, accessibility and usability. I grew up with great joy and connectivity on beaches, on fields and in bending branches, and would like to share this with others as much as possible.”

Re-integrating homeless people

Runner-up Anele Ndawule received a R6 000 prize for his thesis entitled ‘Eli likhaya lam [This is my home]: Re-integrating homeless people into society through re-appropriation of public spaces’, which explores the spatial experiences of homeless people in the City of Cape Town. The project critiques the spatial injustice and social exclusion of ‘unhoused’ communities and reimagines public spaces as ever-changing places where shared occupation, activities and performance determine the success of well-designed spaces.

Anele adds that landscape architecture is a medium in which all built environment professionals can find a common ground for resilient and adaptive planning. “To me, it means a profession that is people, community and environment orientated, a profession that really brings forth the importance of environmental consideration, cultural value and a sense of people for all.”

Anele Ndawule
Anele Ndawule

He continues: “It is very important for companies to host and sponsor such awards. It is an amazing way to celebrate students’ work and really encourage students to work harder on generating new ways of thinking.”

Anele would like to give back to the community by empowering upcoming landscape architects from previously-disadvantaged backgrounds. “As one myself, I truly understand their circumstances and the pressure they face on a daily basis and still dream of a better future. I believe in the value of outdoor spaces in the promotion of inclusive environments that enhance social inclusion and the benefit of green spaces in promoting healthy environments.”

Anele’s dream for the future is to continue empowering and helping other students become the best they can be. “I see myself both working as a landscape architect and owning a landscape maintenance company that helps train future landscapers and landscape architects.”

Corobrik has long played a pivotal role in recognising up-and-coming young architects in South Africa, notes Marketing Support Manager Thilo Sidambaram, who herself has been involved with the awards for two decades. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that most of the regional events have had to be held remotely. “Despite the challenges posed, the country’s architectural students have still managed to excel, and Corobrik is proud to continue to support our universities during this difficult period.”

34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards: UCT Landscape Architecture

Most Innovative Final-Year Landscape Architecture Award

Winner: Hayden Malan R8 000

Runner-up: Anele Ndawule R6 000

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za